Ethical Issues Affecting Reservation Schools

Educational institutions are affected by some of the same issues impacting all institutions on reservations. These include nepotism, failure to follow clear policies and procedures and misuse of public resources for personal benefit. Of course, these ethical problems don't affect every reservation or every reservation school.

Educational programs also have unique challenges. Grading, selection of sports teams and special education placement are all examples of school specific issues where ethics come into play.

How does a lack of ethics affect education?

The Center for Academic Integrity describes five values as key to ethics in education. These are honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. How do these values (or lack thereof) affect problems widespread on reservations, such as students high drop out rates, "ghost students" who are chronically absent? How does it happen that on some reservations the average student entering tribal colleges with a high school diploma scores at the eighth grade level in academic achievement tests given upon admission (Rousey & Longie, 2001). In a paper entitled, "Fundamental principles of academic integrity", the center staff give a good description of the required courage to have an ethical institution.
"Academic integrity, in our view, is the commitment to stand up for these five values, even in the face of adversity."

Integrity, in two of its facets, honesty and courage, is required to stand up and tell parents, the school board and students themselves that they may be in the third year of high school but that their academic skills are, in fact, at a middle school level. This integrity must be displayed before action can be taken to correct the situation.

Rousey, A. M. & Longie, E. S. (2001). The tribal college as family support system. American Behavioral Scientist,44, 1492-1504.

Center for Academic Integrity (2000). Fundamental principles of academic integrity. Retrieved from the Internet on March 19, 2008